How to create a routine despite attention disorder

Self-help books helped me form atomic habits and join 5am club

In Summary

• I'm giving myself some slack after taking tough routines in my stride

Women work out in the gym
Women work out in the gym

Creating new habits sucks! It’s such a painfully slow process that is supposed to get better once these habits are ‘locked in’, but the road to locking them in sucks.

I read the book 'Atomic Habits', and I was fascinated by it. I liked how practical it was, and I liked how it broke down the process of creating atomic habits.

I’ve always struggled with routine, and I’m not the most disciplined person. I have tried numerous times to lock in routines but I’m usually over the process in a day or two. This past week, I have fought tooth and nail to do the same things over and over again.

My brain thought we were going through a malfunction, so every morning is preceded by me reading my routine out loud. I like to act fascinated by the information and be like, I can’t wait to try out this new thing today.

When my brain detects monotony, I feel compelled by the gods to find something new. My body also refuses to energise me to do anything monotonous, so naturally, I have been known to self-sabotage constantly. Routines, which are mostly about repetition, have been very hard for me to form.

I read the book two weeks ago, followed the given directions and created myself some atomic morning habits and water habits.

I wanted to start small because I know that I can get overly excited about new things, make these grand plans and then, when the excitement dies down, never follow through. I have realised that Mondays to Fridays are extremely easy for me to maintain these atomic habits. My first weekend, however, was a little hectic.

I can form routines. It’s just hard to. For example, I no longer struggle with sleep because even before reading this book, I had my bedtime routine locked in. I like to be asleep by 9pm but sometimes, I will do 9:30pm if I go to the gym that evening. I don’t like going to the gym in the evening, though.

The process begins with leaving my phone charging at 8.45pm. I brush my teeth and then wash my face and fingernails. These two things are very important because I have realised that they act as signals to my brain that it’s time to start shutting the body down.

It doesn't take me any longer than five minutes to fall asleep once I get into bed and complete reading a chapter of my current book. I’m currently reading 'Paradise' by Toni Morrison.

This past week, my morning routine has been the same every day. My alarm goes off at 5.40am. I wake up and drink a glass of water before leaving the bed. After this, I get dressed in my gym clothes, brush my teeth, and immediately leave for the gym at 6am.

The key to unlocking these atomic habits, I understood, is being as clear as possible about how you want to do them. I have mine listed down as specific instructions. For example, I will wake up at 5.40am and immediately drink a glass of water from my nightstand. I will work out for an hour at the gym every day between 6am and 7am. If the gym is not open, I will work out in the evening between 7pm and 8pm.

This week, I started listening to 'The 5am Club' on audiobook. I’m still in the early chapters of the book, so I have no idea what it means to be part of the 5am club yet, but I decided to change my alarm from 5.40am to 5am.

I always struggle to find time to write during my day. Between teaching and being a school administrator and being a human woman, I am exhausted by 2pm and I don’t want to think about writing. In fact, by noon, I am usually done with the day. I heard that being part of the 5am club can help you maximise your day and have you doing more by noon than most people will get done in two days.

I think this is some of the most important self-care I have done in a long time. It’s a real expression of love for my future self because trust me, my present self does not enjoy waking up at 5am, working out every day, drinking water and eating healthy. My present self thinks all these things suck.

I’m still going to do them, though, because I like all versions of myself, and I like that my sacrifice ultimately rolls back around to make me the happiest. This week, I’m adding some consistent nap time to my routine. I’ve earned it for being so good.

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